Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Edwards Deserves More

More than three lines. He announced the end of his campaign today, too, and while others had offered metrical comments earlier, I raised the bar and the syllable count:

His ambition too blatantly crass,
Long he played on resentment of class;
But Americas Two
Have rejected his view
For the Hil or Obama, en masse

Jon Sanders, never one to turn down the challenge, responded:

The poor lost "their voice" today. Drat!
Who'll "speak" for them next? The old bat?
John can't "pimp" now (read: "care")
But he still has his hair,
His mansion, his gym, and all that

Literary Efforts To Commemorate Departures

A few selected bye-ku from this morning's announcement that Rudy Giuliani is bowing out of the Republican nomination race - Paul Chesser got the first licks in:

Late state strategy
Like skipping the game's first half
Losing was foregone

Likeable Rudy
Wasn't going to get nod
Too many Christians

Jon Sanders extended the meme:

Rudy's dropped out, too
Can't be president if you're

Romney's on the ropes,
(For what it's worth) — Looks like
McCain v. Clinton

So: Rudy, Edwards,
And conservativism —
all sunk this year

My humble suggestion:

Unlike Democrats
We don't often move ahead
Driving on the left

Roughing It, Euro Style

Brought to you by a German camping suppy firm ... a culinary question:

What do you drink with a cheeseburger in a can?

Wine made from powder. Red, of course.

UPDATE: My son Matthew Henry's comment -- "This turns water to wine?"

No, let's not go there, son.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Exit Poetry (Updated)

Jon Sanders at the John Locke Foundation is a practitioner of the minimalist poetry commemorating the departure of political figures, dubbed the "bye-ku". He unleashed it mercilessly on my [former] candidate yesterday:

Fred Thompson's campaign,
Like the Law & Order theme,
Simply went "Clunk, clunk."

Sunken, hollow eyes
Vacant much like his campaign
Will he
blame Jeri?

Since Bill Buckley said
"Vote rightwardmost viable"
and Fred's not it -- whom?

To which Paul agreed:

Mitt flips; McCain, ugh;
Big tax Huck; Rudy pro-choice
None of the above

The root of the problem seems to me:

for voters, has Gaussian

UPDATE: The Boston Phoenix (HT: Real Clear Politics) raised an interesting historical point: This may not be over yet. My link from the Locker Room:

Brokered convention
May resurrect the morbid
Fred-shade of Harding!

And as I'm reading A Team of Rivals, I might add that Lincoln was nominated under similar circumstances in 1860.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Okay, it's a few hours old, but I just read it.

Fred Thompson has withdrawn from the GOP nomination race.

I'll post more later if I feel like it. I'm disappointed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Missed Opportunity?

A large mainstream church in the capital city is installing a 6000-pipe organ. Fine, I like organs, though I hope they don't overpower the Messiah sing-in this year.

I think they may have gone a bit far when the music minister was quoted in the big city paper calling it "an evangelism tool, not just for [our church] but for us as Christians."

The Metropolitan Tabernacle in London only sang a capella. Imagine what Charles Spurgeon could have done if he'd had an organ to go along with the preaching.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Liebster Jesu

Blessed Jesus, at thy word,
We are gathered all to hear thee;
Let our hearts and souls be stirred
Now to seek and love and fear thee,
By thy teachings, sweet and holy,
Drawn from earth to love thee solely.

All our knowledge, sense, and sight
Lie in deepest darkness shrouded
Till thy Spirit breaks our night
With the beams of truth unclouded.
Thou alone to God canst win us;
Thou must work all good within us.

Glorious Lord, thyself impart,
Light of Light, from God proceeding;
Open thou our ears and heart,
Help us by thy Spirit's pleading;
Hear the cry thy people raises,
Hear and bless our prayers and praises.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Praise to thee and adoration!
Grant that we thy Word may trust
And obtain true consolation
While we here below must wander,
Till we sing thy praises yonder.

No, Let's Don't Build A Bridge

Russell Moore of Southern Baptist Seminary raises a critical point about Paul's sermon to the Athenians on Mars Hill -- what Paul was not doing was building a bridge to their culture:
Paul did not start speaking in Athens with a “common ground” idea of a generic god, and then reason along to Jesus. He started with the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth, proclaiming among the Gentile philosophers exactly what he had proclaimed among the Jewish rabbis: that God had raised him from the dead. Where Paul starts is also where he ends: with the guarantee that God will bring about judgment found in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (17:31).

Yes, Paul takes note of the altar to the unknown god, and yes, he quotes pagan poets. But in neither case is he “building a bridge,” at least not in the way the “engagers” wish to do. He is not saying, “You see part of the truth already, so let me show you what you already partly believe.”

... Paul’s discourse on the Areopagus is strikingly different from many Christians’ attempts to be relevant to popular culture. He points to the Athenians’ culture not so much to bring out what they know as what they deny.

An excellent article on the need to understand popular culture but not to be imitators of it. Some things to wince at but good to consider (or re-consider).

(HT: Stephen Gambill, The Reformed Pastor )

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Biblical Pattern of Snow

If you're looking at the King James Version, the Bible mentions snow 24 times. This includes ten passages using snow as a standard of whiteness; two as symbolic of purity; and the rest mention it as a meteorological or seasonal event.

Whatever the purpose, it's accumulating in our yard this evening.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Everyone for Fred - It's Tactical

Quin Hilyer makes the case for voting for Fred Thompson in South Carolina - even if you support Giuliani, Romney, or Huckabee.

If I were a South Carolina Republican voter on Saturday, then for parochial, tactical, and philosophical reasons, I would vote for Fred Thompson.

This doesn't mean that I would not have voted for Mitt Romney in Michigan on Tuesday, if I were a Michigander, or that I would not vote for Rudy Giuliani in Florida later this month. Voting in each state, especially in a drawn-out nomination battle, involves particularly local considerations as well as national ones.

But for South Carolinians who are mainstream conservatives, those local considerations seem to cry out for a boost for Fred Thompson.

From The American Spectator

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

GOP Candidates on School Choice

The Club for Growth (the ones who got in a tiff with Huckabee) actually did a full series of white papers on all the candidates' records and positions. School choice was one area surveyed, and here are their findings; most have shown support, though some more consistently than others.

Their introduction: "The Club for Growth supports broad school choice, including charter schools, voucher programs, and tax credits that create a competitive education market including public, private, religious, and non-religious schools. More competition in education can only lead to higher quality and lower costs."

Fred Thompson: ... a faithful supporter of school choice, arguing in 1995 "that our elementary and secondary educational systems need to be restructured ... [which] can be achieved by privatizing a major segment of the educational system" ... support for vouchers that are "universal, available to all parents, and large enough to cover the costs of a high-quality education." ... voted for a 1997 school voucher program in D.C. ... and pilot voucher programs in 1999 and 2001.

Mike Huckabee: ... record on school choice is mixed. On the one hand, he fought hard to protect the rights of parents to home school their children ... a vocal proponent of charter schools ... supported a proposal that would expand charter school eligibility ... signed legislation allowing charter schools to be established in Arkansas. On the other hand, ... is on record opposing voucher programs that allow poor students in failing public schools to attend private schools ... called No Child Left Behind "the greatest education reform effort by the federal government in my lifetime" .... [CFG] Update: As mentioned above, Huckabee's education proposals put greater emphasis on government intervention in the education system instead of calling for greater choice and competition. According to the Sioux City Journal, "Huckabee said he would make arts and music education tested curriculum and provide federal funds to do so."

Rudy Giuliani: ... became one of the country's leading advocates for a competitive education market. ... in 1995, opposed school vouchers ... by 1996, though, Mayor Giuliani began to have a change of heart ... by 1997 had created a widely popular program called the School Choice Scholarships Foundation ... and in 1999, made the leap to a self-proclaimed "prophet" of school choice, proposing a $12 million pilot school choice program even as his school chancellor threatened to quit over the matter. Giuliani even went so far as to argue that "the whole [school] system should be blown up, and a new one put in its place." ... also campaigned on behalf of charter schools, in the hopes of inspiring a "more innovative, performance-driven, entrepreneurial vision of schooling."

Mitt Romney: ... on record supporting charter schools, school vouchers, and home schooling ... charter school expansion rather than a voucher program ... He pushed to eliminate the state-mandated cap on the number of charter schools and successfully vetoed a moratorium on the opening of new charter schools. ... Once advocated abolishing the Department of Education but has since said he supports No Child Left Behind and has seen as a governor that "the Department of Education can actually make a difference."

John McCain: ... record on school choice is very good ... consistently supported school choice programs, voting for voucher programs in 1997, 1999, and 2001 ... eloquently argued that "our children deserve the best education we can provide to them, whether that learning takes place in a public, private, or parochial school. It's time to give middle- and lower-income parents the same right wealthier families have -- to send their child to the school that best meets their needs."

Ron Paul: the perfect is the enemy of the good ... opposition to school choice stems from his opposition to the government's role in education ... arguing that federal voucher programs are "little more than another tax-funded welfare program establishing an entitlement to a private school education." ... He consistently voted against voucher programs ... but supported education tax breaks and introduced the Family Education Freedom Act (H.R. 612) that provides all parents with a tax credit of up to $3,000, available to parents who choose to send their children to public, private, or home school. ... his votes are a direct impediment to achieving high-quality school choice ... aligning himself with Democrats and the NEA in opposing progress towards a market-based education system ...

UPDATE: I'm not tracking the Democratic positions generally. Club for Growth does even bother to separate them, heading their report "One of These Candidates Is Not Like The Other", but here are their highlights of the Democratic side on school choice:

When it comes to school choice, all four Democratic candidates have the same plan: less choice, more federal government. ... talk about the need to help low-income students trapped in failing public schools, ... [but] reject the one education reform that can actually help ... All have voted against or publicly opposed school choice programs, proposed increasing federal money in education ... and called for universal preschool.

A theological link between the Democrats

I just finished reading The Preacher and the Presidents, a new book about the interaction of evangelist Billy Graham with twelve presidential administrations. Reflecting on this and some other reading, I realized there was a connection between the Carter and Clinton administrations -- both Jimmy Carter and Hillary Clinton have read and sought to apply the teachings of Reinhold Niebuhr, a modern liberal theologian who was quite critical of Billy Graham over the years. I also ran across Barack Obama's claim of Niebuhr as his favorite philosopher.

However, I wasn't the first to connect the dots. Benedicta Cipolla's September '07 article for the Religious News Service, posted here at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, explains that "Reinhold Niebuhr is [the] unseen force in 2008 elections."

Good or bad? I haven't read Niebuhr, but from what I do hear of him, it doesn't advance any Democrats in my estimation. Tillich is in there, too. On the other hand, I have read Bonhoeffer and saw both some encouragement and some trouble spots. All three have been mentioned by or in connection with Carter and Clinton (Ms).

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Reflections on the Caucus

What to think of Iowa, what to think ...

I was watching the commentary in The Corner Thursday evening, and Mark Steyn, speaking of Huckabee's win in Iowa that evening, raised a concern about the evangelical surge there:

It would be truer to say that for a proportion of Huck's followers there is no aisle: he's their kind of Christian, and all the rest - foreign policy, health care, mass transit, whatever - is details. This is identity politics of a type you don't often see on the Republican side.
I share that concern. Although I'm an evangelical Christian and a homeschooler, like many of Huckabee's supporters, I'm not one of his proponents, and I am concerned that his conservatism only goes as far as doctrine, not policy decisions.

If Steyn is right, and the Huckaboom is based on affinity for his doctrinal beliefs rather than his political principles, I doubt that Huckabee will be able to muster significant support outside the evangelical community. At the same time, if he leaves the race, this group of supporters is unlikely to swing its votes to Romney or to Giuliani, as either will be suspect on doctrine or on social issues.

So who would benefit if Huckabee folds? There is a strong libertarian streak in the homeschooling community, taking in both the evangelical and the secular sides of that movement, so Paul is a possibility; he already has home educators on board and working hard in his campaign, though he has other issues to address for the rest of the social conservatives. McCain has the war-hero status that attracts many in the evangelical world, but his maverick voting record has made many cautious about him and where he truly stands politically. Strangely, Thompson shares weaknesses with both Paul and McCain -- an unfortunate support for campaign restrictions, like McCain, and a strong federalist position like Paul, which some interpret as a lack of commitment to addressing moral issues from a federal level. On the other hand, I still think Thompson offers the most balanced platform and the most solid principles both philosophically and politically, so I have hopes he'll gain the attention and votes I think he deserves.

My feeling at the moment is that McCain or Thompson will benefit in the long run, but it's way, way too early to predict with certainty. Reagan lost Iowa in 1980, after all, and more than one ascendent campaign has fallen like Icarus in the warming days of primary season.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007 Times To Speak

Between us, Melanie and I had about seventeen speaking events this year, which is about par for the past few. I've expanded out my list of preaching dates this time (last year I just listed it once, though I taught several times during the year). This doesn't include some routine support group discussions or meetings of one sort or another, just the formal invitations and prepared messages.

Hal & Melanie

2/8/07 - Roberson County Homeschool Support Group, Lumberton, NC
5/25-25/07 - NCHE Annual Conference, Winston-Salem, NC
9/8/07 - Home Educators of Rainbow Forest, Troutville, VA


1/21/07 – South Smithfield Baptist Church, Matthew 22:23-33
4/21/06 – South Smithfield Baptist Church, Matthew 26:31-35
5/1/07 - Lighthouse Christian Homeschool Association
5/13/07 – South Smithfield Baptist Church, Matthew 26:57-68
6/24/07 – South Smithfield Baptist Church, Matthew 27:32-56
7/15/07 – South Smithfield Baptist Church, Conclusion of Matthew’s Gospel
9/16/07 – South Smithfield Baptist Church, Nehemiah 6
10/21/07 – South Smithfield Baptist Church, Nehemiah 10
11/25/07 – South Smithfield Baptist Church, Titus 1:1-4
12/23/07 – South Smithfield Baptist Church, Titus 2:11-15


5/24/07 - NCHE Annual Conference, Winston-Salem, NC
10/6/07 - NCHE Eastern Support Group Leadership Conference, Wilson, NC
10/8/07 - Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), Angier, NC
10/27/07 - NCHE Western Support Group Leadership Conference, Charlotte, NC

Some feedback here and here - thanks, y'all. And here's last year's list.

Endorsement Watch 01-02-08

Writing on, Christian public relations executive Mark DeMoss endorses Mitt Romney (again):
As an evangelical Southern Baptist and a social conservative, I like the leadership Governor Romney provided our movement in defending traditional marriage between a man and a woman and in opposing embryonic stem cell research. I believe his values are consistent with mine in every way, whether or not his theology is.